You can't flog a dead horse

HARARE - A few days ago, I was fortunate enough to get feedback from one of our readers who like most Zimbabwean cricket fans, shares all the worries and concerns that we all have about the rapidly deteriorating team, it's coaching staff, and of course it's entire management and general staff.

From head coach to the match reporter. Each and every one of these gentlemen have in their own way somehow managed to touch raw nerves with their actions.

From selecting strange team combinations, to Tweeting that certain players had made themselves available to play for the country, when in fact, it was the younger brother who had made himself available.

Be that as it may, the sun will still rise and the perpetrators will continue to run the show, regardless of the many petitions that have been signed on the various social platforms.

The reader did bring up a very interesting point, as he gently took me to task about certain areas of the team.

He made mention of the fact that I wrote about the physical preparations of the team leading up to the tour, such as batting in hot and humid conditions and consulting the services of a professional spinning coach, who not only worked with the spinners, but also tried to assist the batsmen when playing against spin, and in particular the left arm spinners.

The reader felt that I had been unfair in the sense that I had made no mention of the psychological preparations before touring Bangladesh.

Had this been nine years ago, when Zimbabwe had re-entered the international scene, our reader would have been spot on with his assessment.

Most of the team were still teenagers, varying between the ages of 18 to 21 and had very little experience of playing any form of cricket, from club cricket, to international cricket, or life in general for that matter.

Weather Zimbabwe cricket employed the services of a professional psychologist we will probably never know.

It would have had to have been a psychologist who was also qualified as a sports psychologist, who would also have been able to have got inside the minds and thoughts of the players.

ZC did of course employ the services of a sports psychologist a few years ago, but surprise surprise! The poor lady didn't know the first thing about cricket, bless her innocent soul.

She wouldn't have had no idea about turning pitches and left arm-spinners, and she wouldn't have been able to have told the team how to go for the kill when getting into winning positions.

So in that instance, our concerned reader was spot on.

He was also quite right when he observed, not mentioning a single word about the team undergoing any psychological preparations for the current tour.

The reason is a pretty simple one.

If our reader, or anybody else for that matter had read last week's column, you would have read that excluding this tour, Zimbabwe have toured Bangladesh on six previous occasions, excluding the T20 World Cup and the ongoing tour.

The majority of the players have been on those tours which have been on a regular basis from 2001 up to the present.

Granted, none of the current crop of players were in the victorious teams of 2001 and 2004, but from 2005 up to now, 85% of the team have been to Bangladesh, and should therefore have an expansive knowledge of what to expect when playing the Tigers in their backyard.

And although the Zimbabwean conditions are vastly different to those of Bangladesh, these two teams have been at each other's throats so to speak on pretty much a yearly basis.

Then there was also an observation that we need to understand that Zimbabwe haven't been in winning positions enough times to complete a win.

Again, I refer to Zimbabwe's trip back in 2005 when they went 2-0 up in the five match series, but ended up losing the series 3-2.

Although it was against the then lowly ranked Bangladesh, people were sympathetic and understanding due to the lack of game time most of the players had, and we also had to consider that they had hardly played any form of first-class domestic cricket.

However, we have progressed from those days, although it would seem that the progression has only been in years, and nothing else.

Bear in mind that not only do most of the team have experience and knowledge of the Bangladeshi teams, and the conditions, but we also have the advantage of some of our players having played in the various domestic competitions in Bangladesh.

Sadly, none of these players have pulled their weight in the ODI series, which has put some pressure on the team.

Having said that, one would have thought that the idea of performing under pressure, and proving to their team mates, the fans, the world and most importantly themselves that they are capable of playing international cricket would have appealed to them, but this doesn't seem to be the case.

The compilation of the team is debatable as well, with Sean Williams being left out due to disciplinary reasons, means that the team only have one left-hander in the team to try and combat the left-arm spinners.

Although Craig Ervine disappointed in the Test matches, he should have been given another opportunity in the middle order to provide flexibility.

Yet, despite his terrible lack of form, Vusi Sibanda seems to have gained immunity and it seems as if his part time off-spin and the fact that he dismissed Shakib Al Hasan without scoring is good enough to keep him in the side no matter what.

The point is that we are mercilessly flogging a horse that has no life left in it.

From the administrators to the players and the rest.

I have in the past eluded to the use of a machine which is called a Humane killer.

This machine is used to put sick or injured horses out of their misery and to relieve them from their suffering.

In closing I can do nothing more than repeat what I wrote about three months ago, and that is to bring out the Humane killer.

Comments (1)

Mr Duplessis..as a cricket fan, I always enjoy reading your column for its insightful analysis of the game. I do not know if I am the only one feeling this but there is always the suspicion the players are not happy with the technical team and are doing their best to make sure it does not succeed. People lose form but I think if Taylor's loss of form is genuine, it ranks as one of the biggest and saddest in the history of the game. On the other hand, Elton disappointed in Tests but is all of a sudden showing application in the ODIs. If I may ask, who in the world came up with the idea of two captains? I work in a sales environment where, like in cricket, for you to earn your place in the team, you have to prove your worth by contributing to the team goal. I know what it means when you are subjected to having two managers both tasked with bringing the best out of the teams they supervise, the result can be disastrous as if one of them (captains/managers) happens to be petty, sabotage and backbiting will be the order of the day as no one wants to be seen to be slacking. One of the Flower brothers made a very compelling argument when he analysed the composition of the Zim game's management. He correctly extrapolated that chances of our success are very slim especially at the hands of the current management. He said they are either novices in the game or some of them, like me, hardly know anything about the game except runs and wickets. If we had good politics, these are things the minister of sport should be seized with to ensure charlatans are not allowed anywhere near our beautiful sport. One may not be surprised to see that chancers are getting into this sport not to contribute to its betterment but to milk it of its meager resources. What a pity? Of course I do not believe that we are cursed. The Almighty will remember us one day. Sooner!

Tonderai Gonzo Snr - 27 November 2014

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